Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A tough call in Ridley

School superintendents make a pretty good living. Six figures is pretty much the minimum wage for these folks. Don’t think for a moment they don’t earn it.

Take the case of Dr. Nick Ignatuk. He is actually stepping down at the end of the school year, retiring after a long-distinguished career with the Ridley School District.

But not before he had to work his way around one more landmine.

This started last Friday morning, when I got a phone call from a father with a very compelling story. Christopher Dillon wanted to tell me about his son, also named Christopher, who had died of a heart problem the week before.

The younger Dillon was a senior at Ridley High and was due to graduate in a couple of weeks.

His grief-stricken family – in particular his mother – wanted to honor his hard work in getting his diploma. So they asked if the mother could take his place and walk in the commencement and accept his diploma.

Ignatuk turned them down, instead offering a moment of silence for Dillon and of course having his name read along with the rest or the graduates.

The family was crest-fallen. They also were angry. They did not understand what the problem was, what precedent was being shattered.

For his part, Ignatuk indicated that he did not want to take the attention away from the graduating students.

That was on Friday. After we started asking questions, several local TV stations also made their way to the Dillon house to tell their story.

We ran an initial story on Saturday, then planned to follow with a lenghthier piece on Sunday.

Saturday morning, Ignatuk and the district had a change of heart.

They believe it was something of a misunderstanding. Ignatuk did not think it would be proper for Mrs. Dillon to march with the graduates and then sit with them. He realized as he watched coverage of the story that was not the case.

Mrs. Dillon indeed will be there on commencement night. She will be able to sit in an area near the grads and when her son’s name is called, the high school principal will present her with her son’s diploma.

Good solution. I was never really sure why Ignatuk was setting himself up for the kind of abuse that his initial decision was bound to spark.
At the same time, I was not exactly sure he was completely wrong. It was a tough call.

I’m glad it’s been resolved. I’m glad the newspaper was able to play a role in it. And I’m glad a guy like Nick Ignatuk has been the boss at Ridley for a long time.

Enjoy your retirement, Nick.


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